We round out our Underrated/Overrated series with a collection of starters that are costing you a higher draft pick than their abilities detail. Don’t enter the season relying on these hurlers as you’ll be building a house on a poor foundation. If you need more help getting your Pitching Bust fix, head on over to Washington Post for four more pitchers that I don’t like in this year’s draft, but first, let’s go over these five overpriced starters.
James Shields (San Diego Padres) – If you’re desperate for strikeouts, I can understand why people are looking to Shields. He increased his Curveball usage last season, leading to a career high 9.61 K/9, though that number should fall to the mid eights or so. Thing is, all the praise I have for Jimmy ends right there. His walk rate was laughable last season, jumping nearly two points last season to a whopping 3.60 BB/9, making it tough for him to extend past six innings on the hill. It adds up to a pitcher to may hurt your more than help, with an inflated ERA and WHIP playing for a Padres team that will not hint at a playoff run. I’d much rather invest in a good floor guy like Patrick Corbin going for a cheaper price.
Zack Greinke (Arizona Diamondbacks) – Greinke was unreal last year, there’s no question about it. Problem is that I hate paying for a career year when there are many indications that it will not be repeated. Exhibit A) His 1.66 ERA had a 3.22 xFIP under the hood and now he moves into hitter friendly Chase Field. Exhibit B) His LOB rate was 86.5% last year. Exhibit C) He had only a 23.7% strikeout rate. I’m not saying I don’t want Greinke on my team, but he’s currently ranked higher than Carrasco, Syndergaard, Fernandez, Cole, etc. and it doesn’t sit right with me. Let others believe in a near repeat while you get the same ERA/WHIP production with more strikeouts.
Michael Wacha (St. Louis Cardinals) – I realy don’t see the allure of Wacha. He’s just so…boring. He doesn’t have the K upside you want (he’s been under 8 K/BB for two straight seasons), his walk rate is meh at 7.6%, and he’s had back-to-back seasons of a 3.70+ xFIP. Why are we taking him ahead of guys like Carlos Martinez, Michael Pineda, Raisel Iglesias? Seriously, I don’t get it, the guy doesn’t even generate grounders at good clip (44.3% career mark), and his SIERA was 4.02 last season. Promise you’ll stay away, k? K.
Julio Teheran (Atlanta Braves) – The only scenario I can envision someone going for Teheran is in an NL-Only league or a super deep mixed scenario. Otherwise, Teheran will most likely hurt your team with a poor ERA and WHIP, making his current ECR ranking of #54 just silly. Why would I be going for harmful mediocrity over a high upside guy? You can simply go for the gold with another pitcher like Joe Ross, Vince Velasquez, or Tyler Duffey and if they don’t pan out you just move on to another guy that’s on the wire. That easy. Instead, if you follow his current draft stock, you’ll be crying yourself to sleep wondering why you ever put yourself through the endless disappointment. Not one of his ERA/FIP/xFIP/SIERA were below 4.00 last season. His BB/9 was at 3.29. He only struck out 20.3% batters. He held just a 3.95% GB rate. WHY.
Johnny Cueto (San Francisco Giants) – Some are predicting that a move back to the NL will restore the Cueto of old, and that his horrific second half in Royal Blue was an exception, not the rule. Well I’m not sold. Last season’s FIP/xFIP numbers were nearly identical to those in his career 2014 year, but his ERA finally followed suit and now we’re all freaking out. Then his strikeout numbers dipped 1.5 points to nearly match his 7.42 K/9 rate, and his soft contact dropped nearly 5 points to an average 20%. It spells out Cueto performing exactly in line with his ability last season, indiciating that 2014 was a career year and shouldn’t be depended upon. It’s as simple as that.